Recently, we’ve had a couple of nice warm, sunny days here in Bolton and it got me pondering the perennial concerns relating to dogs and hot weather.
We all know that dogs die in hot cars thanks to excellent campaigns by the RSPCA, Dogs Trust, PETA and other animal organisations; what often gets overlooked is the fact that dogs die needlessly from heatstroke on warm days in parks, houses and gardens too.
In this article I’ll attempt to outline some of the facts surrounding dogs and overheating. Why and how it happens, the signs of overheating and what to do if your dog is overheating. Please take time to read and share this article, it may help to prevent the needless suffering of a loved pet.
A dogs core temperature
The average core temperature of a healthy dog is considered to be 38°C (101°F); however, the normal temperature of a healthy dog may range from 37°C to 39°C (99 °F to 102.5°F). A core temperature of over 39°C (103°F) is considered abnormal and requires immediate action. At 41°C (106°F) a dog will be suffering from heat stroke which can lead to multiple organ dysfunction and ultimately death.
Some dogs are more at risk to overheating than others, but at The Way of the Dog we consider this information superfluous to the need for education on overheating and heat stroke in dogs. We believe that all dog owners should be aware of the signs of overheating and heat stroke and be aware of the actions they need to take.
The causes and effects of overheating
There are many medical and physiological causes of overheating. As this article is related to the heat of a summer day we will focus only on these causes, but the symptoms and required actions are the same whatever the cause.
By exposing a dog to excessive environmental heat and humidity, excessive exercise or a combination of both heat and exercise your dogs core body temperature will begin to rise. His mind and body will respond as he attempts to regulate it.
First, he will attempt to remove himself from the heat source by finding shade and/or stopping exercising. His blood vessels will dilate bringing hot blood close to the surface allowing it to cool. He will begin to sweat from the pads of his paws and will pant to bring air into his upper respiratory system to evaporate water from his mouth, tongue, throat and lungs thus dissipating heat. He will need to drink a lot of water to compensate for this evaporation. You should assist him to achieve this reduction in temperature by stopping exercising immediately and by providing shade, a breeze and plenty of cool fresh water.
In most cases this is enough to allow the dog to slowly reduce his core body temperature to it’s normal level. You should continue to monitor him for further symptoms and respond accordingly.
When overheating leads to heat stroke
If your dog is not removed from the heat source, is continued to be exercised and/or is unable to access enough water his temperature will continue to rise above 39°C (103°F). As he struggles to overcome the heat this starts a series of reactions that are difficult to stop, even if the animal eventually gets his temperature down. Heat stroke causes his organs and body systems to be affected and shut down, possibly leading to the death of your pet. By 41°C (106°F), irreversible damage will have occurred.
Symptoms of heat stroke
- Body temperature above 39°C (103°F)
- Severe panting
- Sudden breathing distress
- Lying down and won’t get up (panting may have ceased)
- Excessive drooling
- Reddened gums and moist tissues of the body
- Diarrhoea, sometimes bloody
- Vomiting, sometimes bloody
- Rapid heart rate
- Irregular heart beats
- Weak rapid pulse
- Changes in mental status
- Lack of awareness of surroundings
- Staggering, appears blind or drunken
- Muscle tremors
Treatment of heat stroke
Your objective here is to gradually reduce the dogs core body temperature; reducing it too quickly can cause further problems for your dog. Use cool, not cold water. Never use ice or iced water.
- Remove your dog from any external heat sources. Find a shaded, well ventilated area that is close to a water source.
- Provide the dog with plenty of cool, fresh drinking water. Do not force it to drink but you can moisten its tongue and mouth if it is lying down and panting.
- Spray cool water over the dogs coat and rub in to the skin. Continue spraying.
- Wrap the dog in cool wet towels, replacing them regularly.
- Immerse the dog in cool water.
- Use a fan to create a breeze.
- Call your vet and explain what is happening and that you will be coming in.
If possible, you should monitor the dogs temperature and stop cooling once it returns to 39°C (103°F). Whilst continuing to monitor its temperature, you should now get your dog to your veterinary surgeon as soon as possible. Take wet towels/spray bottles for the journey to keep him cool.
Your pet will have undergone severe stress to its body and organs. Your vet will will need to examine your dog to check that its temperature has been reduced and has stabilized, and that no long lasting damage has taken place. Complications, such as a blood-clotting disorder, kidney failure, or fluid build-up in the brain will need to be immediately and thoroughly treated.
At The Way of the Dog, we sincerely hope that this article has provided you with some essential advice on recognising and acting upon any signs of overheating in dogs. There are 4 key elements to remember:
- Be aware of putting your dog in a situation or environment where overheating is possible.
- Always monitor your dog for signs of overheating.
- Act to reduce the temperature of an overheating dog quickly and effectively.
- Always consult your vet if overheating has occurred and any of the symptoms of heat stroke have been displayed.
Enjoy the summer. Enjoy your dog.
Contribution by Matthew@HeppinessWebDesign
Sources and further reading:
Various articles at www.petmd.com
Temperature of a Healthy Dog (1999) – Jie Yao Huang (Janice)
Thermoregulation in Dogs and the Dangers of Hyperthermia for the Layperson (2011) – Jerilee A. Zezula, D.V.M.
Just like many of us, dogs love the spring. It signifies the return of evening walks, weekend outings and time in the garden with the family.
But, spring brings with it a host of issues that all dog owners should be aware of. At The Way of the Dog, our articles are focused on providing dog owners with information on how best to maintain the health and wellbeing of their canine friend. In this article we will cover a few of the considerations you should make for your dog this spring.
Spring is generally a good time for a dog in the home; the windows get opened, the fresh air blows through and the house gets a spring clean. The only thing to consider here is your use and storage of cleaning products. Try to use products that you know have no effect on your dog, store them safely and securely and monitor your dog for allergic reactions to any new products used in your home (see info on allergies below).
The same rules apply if you decide to decorate any part of your home. Always consider your dog; keep him/her safe from harm, keep them away from equipment and chemicals, and keep the house ventilated.
The greatest dangers we expose our pets to in the home environment in the spring are often associated with the garden. Tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, lilies and crocus are common spring plants but they are all poisonous or irritant to dogs. Many lawn care products and fertilisers are potentially fatal to our pets.
The database of plants, foods and household items and their toxicity at www.petpoisonhelpline.com can be used to assess the risks of these items in your home. It also informs you what to do in the event of ingestion.
Out and About
Spring signifies new life, new life that can be threatened by your dog’s proximity.
By law, you must control your dog so that it does not disturb or scare farm animals or wildlife. On most areas of open country and common land, known as ‘access land,’ you must keep your dog on a short lead between 1 March and 31 July and all year round near farm animals.
Take particular care that your dog doesn’t scare sheep and lambs or wander where it might disturb birds that nest on the ground and other wildlife – eggs and young will soon die without protection from their parents.
You do not have to put your dog on a lead on public paths as long as it is under close control. But as a general rule, keep your dog on a lead if you cannot rely on its obedience. If this is the case with your dog, please get in touch with us, our Dog Obedience Service can help you strengthen your dog control and recall.
Bugs, Beasties and Creepy Crawlies
Spring also sees the reemergence of all those bugs, beasties and creepy crawlies that disappear in the winter months.
- Fleas – Fleas become more prevalent as the spring weather begins to warm. They live off the blood of animals and are a nuisance to their hosts, causing an itching sensation which in turn may result in the host attempting to remove the pest by biting, pecking, scratching, etc. Flea bites generally cause the formation of a slightly raised, swollen itching spot with a single puncture point at the centre.
- Midges – Midges pose no real health risk to your dog other than irritation. The bites of a female midge have the same effect on your dog as it does to you. Midge bites generally cause the formation of a slightly raised, swollen itching spot with a single puncture point at the centre. Some dogs may have increased sensitivity to their bite and your vet can usually prescribe a anti-allergenic medicine.
- Mosquitos – As with midges, the UK mosquito poses only the risk of irritation to your dog. Mosquito bites generally cause the formation of a raised, swollen itching spot with a single puncture point at the centre. However, the European mosquito can carry heart worm. If travelling abroad you should speak to your vet about vaccination.
- Ticks – Ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of host animals for several days. They are particularly unpleasant beasties as they can carry and transit Lyme Disease to humans and pets. See our detailed article about your dog and ticks.
- Lungworm – Lungworm are a type of parasitic worm that can affect dogs living in the heart and blood vessels that supply the lungs. Your dog cannot become directly infected by lungworm, but can become a host by eating slugs and snails.
Infestation or pestering by any of these parasites can be prevented through the regular use of preventative medication. Your vet will be able to advise you on the type and dosage required to protect your dog. If infestation has already taken place, particularly with fleas, ticks or lungworms a trip to the vet is necessary.
Just like humans, dogs can suffer from seasonal allergies; but, unlike humans whose allergy symptoms usually involve the respiratory tract, allergies in dogs more often take the form of skin irritation or inflammation.
If your pet has allergies, it’s skin will become very itchy leading to scratching excessively, and/or biting or chewing at certain areas of the body. They may rub themselves against vertical surfaces like furniture, or may rub their face against the carpet. As the itch-scratch cycle continues, the skin will become inflamed and tender to the touch. Other signs of allergic dermatitis include areas of hair loss, open sores on the skin, and scabbing.
The best cure is to remove the allergen, soothe the symptoms and monitor your pet’s progress, but in many cases the allergen will be unknown. In this case you should consult your vet, who may recommend blood testing to find the cause and/or medication to soothe the symptoms
Some spring days can be sunny and warm, sometimes even hot. Therefore, it seems timely to remind you of the effects of this on your dog.
You dog struggles to regulate it’s own body temperature; it doesn’t sweat, it can’t take it’s coat off, it goes where you take it. It is your responsibility to ensure that it is safe from the dangers of overheating and to minimise it’s risks.
- Water – Your dog loses the majority of its heat through panting. It transfers body heat to moisture in the respiratory system which it breathes out thus expelling the heat. Using this method, your dog will become quickly dehydrated. Always make sure that your dog has plenty of fresh, clean water available.
- Exercise – Be careful not to over exercise your dog on a warm day as it will become at risk of overheating. If you keep throwing that ball, your dog will keep fetching it. Constantly monitor its breathing and look for signs of panting, then stop. Make sure that you have fresh, clean water available to offer your dog if you intend exercising them in warm weather.
- Hot Cars – We all know that dogs die in hot cars, but this applies to conservatories, tents and caravans too. The temperature inside your car can quickly become double the outside temperature once the sun comes out. Once that temperature rises to a point where your dog begins to overheat, it could be dead in a matter minutes. It is a painful, horrendous death. I will write a more detailed article on the speed at which this can happen in the lead up to summer.
- Grooming – All dogs will benefit from regular grooming to rid their coats of excessive insulation in the spring and summer, this also provides a great opportunity to check your dog for external parasites. Long haired dogs should have their coats cut frequently to help reduce the risks of overheating.
Enjoy the Spring
At The Way of the Dog, we advocate the daily exercising of your dog and spring often provides the perfect conditions for doing so. We hope that you will use the information presented in this article to make it a happier and healthy experience for your dog.
Contribution by Matthew@Heppiness
Winter is a fabulous time to take your dog out for a walk; the fresh air will do you both good. But as the mercury drops in the thermometer, certain health hazards are created that every dog owner needs to be aware of.
At The Way of the Dog, we do not aim to sensationalise issues or scaremonger. Our articles are focused on our experiences in dog world and informing dog owners of how best to maintain the health and wellbeing of their canine friend. This article is intended to inform you of possible risks to your dog’s health.
A common winter related ailment in dogs is anti-freeze poisoning. Anti-freeze contains the toxin ethylene glycol, which is sweet and irresistible to dogs. They’ll lick up drips from leaking car coolant systems and brake systems or drink from contaminated puddles and other water sources.
It does not take a significant amount of ethylene glycol to cause fatal damage to a dog, as low as 2-3ml per pound of the dog’s weight.
Dog owners should:
- NEVER decant anti-freeze into another container.
- Store anti-freeze in a secure place with lids securely closed.
- Check cars for leaks and if found get them fixed.
- Check their driveways, parking spaces and garages for contamination.
- Use a funnel when topping up anti-freeze to reduce spills.
- Dispose of old/unused anti-freeze at an approved waste management facility.
Anti-freeze poisoning occurs in two phases. In the first phase, the animal typically appears lethargic, disoriented, uncoordinated and groggy. Symptoms usually appear 30 minutes to one hour after ingestion and can last for several hours.
The second phase, which can last up to three days, is characterized by symptoms such as vomiting, oral and gastric ulcers, kidney failure, coma and death.
For dogs exposed to antifreeze, the first few hours are critical. They should see a vet as soon as antifreeze ingestion is suspected.
Rock salt used to grit roads and paths in winter can be a danger to dogs if they lick it from their paws or fur. Even small amounts of pure salt can be dangerous, but the exact quantities of salt in rock salt are variable. Most cases are a result of a dog licking it’s paws and fur after walking through a salted area. The salt irritates the skin and paws and the dog is simply attempting to remove the irritation.
Dog owners should:
- Avoid using rock salt in areas their dogs walk in their own gardens.
- Avoid heavily salted areas in public.
- Rinse and dry their dog after winter walks (always rinse down the body and legs, pay attention to and in-between pads).
- Be aware of excessive paw licking after a winter walk.
Ingestion can result in a high blood sodium concentration which can cause thirst, vomiting and lethargy, and in severe cases there is a risk of convulsions and kidney damage.
Any dog suspected to have ingested rock salt must be seen by a vet.
Older dogs, small breed dogs, dogs with short fur and puppies can be especially sensitive to the cold weather. Dogs with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances may have a harder time regulating their body temperature, and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes. In addition, all dogs can be susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia if conditions are cold enough and/or the length of exposure is long enough.
Dog owners should:
- Assess the type and age of dog and it’s susceptibility to the cold by consulting a vet.
- Purchase and use suitable protection based on this assessment.
- Monitor their dog regularly when exercising them in cold weather.
- NEVER leave your dog outside unsupervised without a heated shelter.
If your pet is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, seems weak, or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them back inside quickly because they are showing signs of hypothermia. Frostbite is harder to detect, and may not be fully recognized until a few days after the damage is done.
If you suspect your dog has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your vet immediately.
Many dogs love a bit of snow. The mixture of curiosity and the sensations involved can lead many dogs to appear excited and exuberant. This maybe the case, but snow can also conceal a few doggy perils.
Whilst many of the risks posed by snow to a dog’s wellbeing are the result of the cold, there are a few extra points to consider.
Dog owners should:
- Cut the hair between a dogs pads. These hairs trap snow that can ball into a small ice-cube nestled between the pads. If your dog refuses to move or appears lame on a snowy day, check pads first.
- Remove snow and ice build up from a dog’s pads, legs and under carriage regularly to prevent it freezing to ice as this becomes painful.
- If this snow build up becomes ice, remove with a warm (not hot) damp cloth.
- Be aware of snow drifts, banks and cornices.
- Monitor their dog regularly when exercising them in the snow.
If you suspect your dog has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your vet immediately.
When walking your dog, stay away from frozen ponds, lakes and other water. Dogs will often attempt to walk on ice with no concept of the thickness of ice or there being water below. If they were to fall through the ice, some breeds of dog will succumb to the effects of the cold and then drown in a matter of seconds.
Dog owners should:
- Avoid areas with frozen bodies of water.
- If in the vicinity of a frozen body of water, keep your dog on a lead.
- If your dog ventures onto a frozen body of water, coax them back without causing panic.
- If your dog falls through ice, attempt to coax them back to land or use material nearby to provide an aid to exiting the water (buoyancy aids, a fallen branch, a fence panel, etc).
- If you retrieve your dog, get them dry and warm as soon as possible.
- NEVER enter the water to rescue your dog. More than 50 per cent of ice-related drownings involved an attempted rescue of another person or a dog (ROSPA).
If your dog has entered a frozen body of water and you suspect your dog has hypothermia or any other ailments, consult your vet immediately.
Enjoy the Winter Together
I know, it sounds like we’ve got our health and safety clipboard out and banned you and your dog having any fun together in the winter; this isn’t the case.
At The Way of the Dog we actively encourage the (at least) daily exercising of your dog, whatever the weather. Follow the points we’ve made and you will have minimised any risk to your dog’s health and wellbeing during one of the most spectacular times of the year.
Contribution by Heppiness
Image credits Scott Costello Flikr
You will hear the word ‘socialisation’ often spoken by dog owners, enthusiasts, and professionals alike, but what does it really mean?
When raising a puppy you might hear the word repeated often without any true appreciation or understanding of its significance. For a long time now we have been told that we must socialise our puppies at the earliest opportunity and introduce them to all other dogs so that they might become tolerant of all dogs. This in part is true, but this approach does not explain socialisation in its truest sense or properly suggest how such socialisation should take place.
Mismanaged interactions may have negative consequences and lead to the development of behavioural problems later in life, whilst a lack of early socialisation can equally bring about similar complex problems.
How we define dog socialisation at TWOTD?
The Way of the Dog holds the view that socialisation is the purposeful act of familiarising puppies and dogs to the environment in which they live, occupy, or visit so that the animal acts in a way that is considered acceptable.
It is important that dogs become familiar with sensations, actions, objects, and living things within a variety of different environments or circumstances. Failure to introduce the dog to such things may lead to the dog demonstrating a reluctance to approach or accept unfamiliar situations and develop ways to avoid or escape them; this might include strategies that involve aggression.
The primary socialisation period for a young dog is considered to be from 3 – 12 weeks old, and is the most important period of social development. This is why it is absolutely essential to choose very carefully where you obtain your puppy. A reputable and ethical breeder will likely commence socialisation as soon as the 3 week point is reached.
Puppy socialisation by TWOTD
If a puppy is not correctly socialised during the early sensitive periods there is a possibility that a dog will never adjust to or accept novel events later in life. It is therefore essential that time and effort is taken to appropriately socialise a puppy to as many events as possible. The Way of the Dog takes this role very seriously and delivers bespoke puppy development courses that focus on properly managed socialisation whilst developing confidence and shaping character.
- Socialisation should always be carefully managed and not delivered randomly or without any consideration to how a particular dog may react.
- Dogs can be bold or cautious, weak or strong; they may dive in to a situation without hesitation or demonstrate much reluctance, they are all very different even at such an early stage.
- Puppies should always be carefully introduced to other puppies and caution should always be exercised when introducing them to adult dogs.
- Enrolling a puppy in a group puppy class is not always the best approach to socialisation as a mismanaged class can be responsible for the development of fearful or aggressive temperaments if the puppy is subjected to negative experiences.
Commit to thorough socialisation of your dog
Social maturity and development continues through to the 18 – 24 month point depending upon the individual dog. It is possible that a dog can become unusually sensitive to any event or circumstance during this period. Puppies considered to be socialised during their early months may suddenly develop what seem like irrational fears towards events that at one time caused them no concern. Therefore, socialisation should always be carefully managed and maintained during the first year of a dog’s life and owners should consider sustaining such approaches beyond until a dog is considered to be a well-adjusted adult.
If you’d like to enrol your new dog on one of our bespoke Puppy Development Courses, please Contact Shaun today.
In a previous blog we discussed ‘How do you choose a trainer’ giving you things to consider when searching for a potential candidate to work with you and your dog. Like many of today’s skills and services there are those that are enthusiasts, amateurs, or professionals, capable of offering different levels of service and proficiency. To support you in identifying who-is-who The Way of the Dog will run a series of blogs to help you make informed choices about enlisting the services of reputable dog trainers.
One of the most important decisions to be made when taking ownership of a new puppy, or when re-homing a dog, is how, when, and where you will begin the dogs training. Scientific evidence supports the fact that initial dog training should begin early and certainly during the first 6 months of a dog’s life as this will help shape the future long term behaviour of the dog. Unfortunately, a large proportion of dog owners leave it to chance and often far beyond the 6 month period when the dog has become difficult before they seek assistance. It is no coincidence many young dogs, who receive no formal training during the early months, are later abandoned, handed over to dog rescues, or are passed from home-to-home, during the period 6 months to 2 years.
Training a dog that is older than 6 months should not be a problem for a competent and qualified dog trainer. It just means that it is likely to be more difficult, possibly more expensive, and certainly more time consuming for the dog owner during the initial stages of training.
So what should we consider before enlisting the services of a dog trainer? During the coming weeks we will discuss specific aspects that may help you decide how to choose the right trainer for your needs. Here are a few topics that we will discuss:
- ‘One-to-one training versus group training.’
- ‘What constitutes a qualified dog training instructor?’
- ‘Should training be conducted indoors or outdoors?’
- ‘How much should dog training cost, price versus quality?’
If there are specific questions that you would like to raise relating to the sourcing of dog training please feel free to leave a comment and The Way of the Dog will consider including in future blogs.